Chess Openings: Learn to Play the Black Lion Defense!

Chess Openings: Learn to Play the Black Lion Defense!

There are many aggressive chess openings for black against e4, but there is a trending opening line for black with the Black Lion Defense. This looks to combine both ideas from the Philidor Defense and Pirc Defense, while adding it’s own chess strategy, chess moves, and chess ideas. The Black Lion Defense is a very fun chess opening for black which has been pushed by @GingerGM and others. The Black Lion Defense has good chess opening strategy, chess opening lines, chess opening variations, chess opening ideas, chess opening moves, chess opening principles, chess opening tactics, chess opening tricks, and chess opening traps. The Black Lion Defense is not for the faint of heart, as we look to checkmate the opponent quickly out of the opening. The Black Lion Defense is a good chess opening for beginners, and a good chess opening for intermediate players. Why is this?


1. The Black Lion Defense is easy to learn – it’s idea is very straightforward and simple. It looks to ideas from the Philidor Defense and Pirc Defense – while adding it’s own flavor too. We begin by simply developing our pieces, with a then straightforward plan of h6/g5/and soon Nf4. We can also activate our rook on the g-file, and then look to checkmate the opponents king as quickly as possible.

2. The Black Lion Defense is good! This is not one of those openings which relies on the opponent making a silly mistake, but has been used at the master/grandmaster level many times. This being said, it is a little bit single dimensional – meaning that white can stop it. However, if they do, we will still have a very playable game and we will show that in this video.

3. The Black Lion Defense is fun! If you are an aggressive and attacking chess player, this opening might just be for you. It starts slow, but you will find yourself with a ton of fun and attacking games, especially if your opponent is not well prepared for the chess opening theory.

We finish out this video by covering a game played by FM Zoran Todic, as he brilliantly used the Black Lion Defense to get a nice win. On this YouTube chess channel, we don’t want to just cover lines and variations which you have to memorize. We also want to cover core strategies and themes, giving you flexibility in how you want to approach your games. We also want to give you the chess opening tools to beat higher rated players and improve at chess fast. Again, if you are an aggressive chess player and want to reach fun middlegame positions, the Black Lion Defense is a top tier chess opening for black against e4! We hope you enjoy learning how to play the Black Lion Defense!

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  1. Wonderful explanation of yet another opening. Thanks..

  2. The lion does NOT sleep tonite! Thanks for this, awesome as usual.

  3. I play this often, but you're really helping with that Bxf7+ variation. Psychology is important when playing humans, and if you can weather that variation, it would freak those in crush mode when you don't curl up and croak out.
    It is a fairly simple system, but that's why I still use it, especially if I've been away from chess for a bit, and just want to get a decent middlegame. Thank you, Solomon.

  4. As always, you uncover some variations I've never seen before. This is why your videos figure prominently in my openings library.

  5. I've been playing a variation of this over the past few days after GM Igor smirnov posted it the other day… Love the lines you cover here though! Thanks Solomon 👊🤙

  6. I'm just getting back into Chess. I used to be a very good player in HighSchool (Went to State for it, placed 3rd). Back than I had gotten a Chess book from my grandma that had many opening moves in it and I fell in love with one I used all the time, but can't remember the name of it.

    To the best of my recollection, it involved stacking your bishops atop of each other above the King (might've been atop the Queen, I can't remember) Any ideas to what opening this was?

  7. this seems very much like a troll video…people should not play this

  8. I started to develop the queen much earlier. I have played this a thousand times. If this is onedimensional I would like to know 1,5 dimensional.

  9. Hi Solomon! Great video, especially the beginning odd moves. For me the minute white plays a4, I play a5 then develop accordingly so white doesn’t gain any more space on the Q side. Also, I play Nf8 before g5. at 8:36 when black goes g5 white can play Be3. If white plays Re1next after black plays Nf8 white can take dxe5 and after dxe5 white plays Nxe5 and black takes Qxe5 with white Bd4 next. Black moves Qc7 white goes e6 and black is in trouble. Playing Nf8 first you have the flexibility to then keep the g pawn on g7 and put the N on g6. Excellent video! I play the Caro Kann exclusively for e4 but this defense is to much fun not to play it often. Thx for the info Solomon

  10. This is my favorite coverage so far. I love trying Black Lion (sucker for animal names) but I lose a lot usually from my opponent taking mid like with f4 and castles with RfE1 and all the swaps are losing. I am going to watch this again… Thank you. I love bourbon is what I am trying to say

  11. Eyy, finally found the time to leave a fat comment.
    Love the video. For the limited amount of resources you've had at the time of recording, you did great job of covering the most critical lines and scratching the surface of the main plans.

    I personally strongly disagree with your statement, that the black lion is single dimensional. I've been playing it for almost two years now and I still find a TON of room for experiments. This nbd7, nf8, ng6, nf4 is the main plan, but it's far from your only option and having only this on trick to work with, will almost certainly loose you some rating points. The lion in my opinion is just as flexible (if not more!) as any system type of opening such as london or king's indian.
    I kind of think that the middlegame positions you've shown aren't very illustrative especially for new players, who will base their plans and goals, but again, with limited resources (it's hard to look for lion games cuz they are often called different names and this annoys philidor players too) it's hard to actually find an illustrative middlegame in such a flexible and somewhat reactive system.

    As for some practical tips I'd like players to have: here is my experience or rather habits I've developed while playing almost exclusively lion for the past year (with short breaks, after getting tilted I took some time to calm myself down with gambits). This is correct more times than not (not always tho), but great to watch out for :
    – a5 is an amazing defensive resource since you want to stop b4, b5 from white breaking your pawn chain. If your opponent prepares b4 with a3, just push a4 and take *an crossaint*. Play this early if enemy's c pawn isn't blocked by the knight.
    – you will sometimes need to use your queenside rook as a defensive resource to gain yourself some tempi. I sometimes go as far as sacrificing it entirely (it's not gonna participate in my kingside assault, so it's disposable) to set whte 3 moves behind on the attack. Stockfish doesn't like me, but I don't like if either. Smd stockfish, I won that game.
    – if your opponent commits a lot of resources to defending the king, you can use your queenside rook to create some threats there instead and try to dislodge enemy pieces away from the defence.
    – g3 is not scary. ALWAYS sack the knight to the g pawn to take back with your own g pawn with check from the rook. If it's not check, then what are you doing? Always realize where to aim your guns before pulling the trigger. This takes some time to get used to, but you'll get the hang of it.
    – if your opponent blunders anything to the pin on the g file, the game is almost over, just look for what looks cool. I've had positions where I had 2 bishops for 2 rooks and stockfish said -5 despite me being down material so much.
    – in some positions you'll need to use your f pawn to prevent white's rook from coming to the 3rd rank. this is rare and occurs when you are forced to push your g pawn up ur opponent's face, but it does happen and it is important.
    – you cannot worry about being down material. Just realize your attack is strong.
    – your pawn structure will be worse in the endgame 9/10 times. Don't worry about that. The lion's pawn structure is suited to take way important squares from your opponent and most of the time immediate siplification is borderline impossible if you restrict enemy movements the right way. This will take practice, but you'll get the hang of it.
    – unlike Solomon, I am completely unafraid of this nh4, nf5 manouver. I make sure that I can safely get my knight to f4 and just take on f5 with the bishop. White's pawn on f5 will not be dangerous, because you haven't castled and it's undefended. This is not the case if you get your pawn to f4, where it will be the former g pawn defended by the e pawn eying nasty stuff against white's castled king. JUST KEEP THIS IN MIND IT'S *SUPER IMPORTANT*: if there is still tension in the center and you see enemy's knight come to f5 DO NOT PLAY NF8!!! Dxe5 dxe5 n g7 IS MATE!!!
    – you need different strategies for when the enemy fiancettos. If he fiancettos on the kingside, you'll need to leave your rook on h8 and preassure the h file instead of the g file. If he fiancettos on the queenside, pay close attention to how many times your e pawn is defended.

    I have more tips, but I completely ran outta time while writing this comment. I'll try to update it some time in the future.
    I've be recently gradually ditching my other openings to become somewhat of a lion specialist and I'm having a lot of success as well as fun pursuing that goal.
    This opening is not as easy as it looks and actually has a lot of theory behind it, so get ready to loose some rating points while you are training. I've easily lost like 200 rating just with this opening before it singlehandedly carried me to my peak. It requires a lot of feel for the position like in kia/kid so play it a lot, experiment and analyze.

  12. Thanks for this video Solomon, great fireworks!

  13. Great video! I sense this opening can complement the Pirc Defense and give me another option while I book up on the Pirc. Similarity in the opening phase looks like there are options to transpose. Practical sting. Hard to explain, but I feel that this actually answers some questions I face in the Pirc. I will give this a go. Thanks again! Well done!

  14. Let me know if you release any chess merch.

  15. You really need to publish your own course. Your one of the top 5 instructors out there! Good luck and ty for your work.

  16. Pretty great opening. Excited for the S2 of subscriber game analysis. I mean, how the most solid positions become the fiercest attacks just blows my mind.

  17. Hello Solomon. May I suggest you include the moves of the opening in the thumbnail? One like 1. e4 d6, that helps in a way to know what style of game it is and if it might be interesting or suitable for each player.

  18. If white plays the Austrian attack, are you just stuck playing the pirc defense now? Thank you

  19. Superb analysis. Kudos, and many thanks!

  20. 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nd7 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 c6 5. dxe5 dxe5 6. Bc4 h6 7. Be3 a5 8. a4
    Be7 9. O-O Ngf6 10. Qd2 g5 11. Ne1 Rg8 12. f3 Nh5 13. h3 Nf4 14. Bxf4 gxf4 15.
    Kh2 Bc5 16. Rd1 Qh4 17. Ne2 Nb6 18. Bb3 Rxg2+ 19. Kxg2 Qxh3# 0-1

  21. 1. e4 d6 2. Nc3 Nd7 3. d4 e5 4. Nf3 h6 5. h3 c6 6. Be2 Qc7 7. O-O Ngf6 8. Be3 a5
    9. a3 Be7 10. Rb1 g5 11. Nh2 Rg8 12. d5 Kf8 13. a4 Kg7 14. g3 cxd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5
    16. exd5 f5 17. Bh5 Nf6 18. Be2 f4 19. gxf4 gxf4 20. Bd2 Bxh3 21. Kh1 Kh8 22.
    Rg1 Rxg1+ 23. Qxg1 Rg8 24. Qe1 Bg2+ 25. Kg1 Bxd5+ 26. Kf1 Bg2+ 27. Kg1 Bh3+ 28.
    Kh1 Qc6+ 29. Bf3 Bg2+ 30. Kg1 Bxf3+ 31. Kf1 Qc4+ 0-1

  22. I just arrived at this position as black in a tournament game and the results was positive. 1. d4 d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. f4 e5 it is the position given towards the end of your video. I would say 4. f4 is the best move for white and my opponent played it, naturally. After 5. fxe5 dxe5 6. dxe5 Nxe5 7. Qxd8 Kxd8 I think black is completely fine here and I don't believe in this position as playing for a win by white because they have given themselves an isolated pawn and then traded queens. The black king is more active and after 8. Bf4 Bd6 9. O-O-O Ke7 the black king is completely comfortable on e7. After 10. Nf3 Nd3+ 11. Bxd3 Bxf4+ 12. Kb1 my opponent soon offers a draw which I declined. White is only playing for a draw after these dull exchanges and black has a bishop pair, an active king, and good winning chances. Traditionally I am a 1…e5 player against 1. e4 but this is a very solid weapon for black even in serious slow games.

  23. Funny enough I stumbled on this opening from stockfish analysis and I haven't even played your bring the knight back kingside attack yet but still had great success with it, so maybe it's less 1 dimensional than you think, great vid btw 🤘🤘✅

  24. 1. e4 g6 2. d3 Nf6 3. c3 d5 4. Qc2 dxe4 5. dxe4 Bg7 6. h3 O-O 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. Nbd2
    Be6 9. a4 Na5 10. Be2 Nc6 11. g4 Nd7 12. g5 Nc5 13. b4 Na6 14. Nf1 Nab8 15. h4
    Ne5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. f4 Bg7 18. h5 Qd6 19. Be3 Qc6 20. Rc1 Nd7 21. Bb5 Qd6 22.
    Rd1 Bd5 23. Rxd5 Qe6 24. Bxd7 Qa6 25. hxg6 fxg6 26. b5 Qa5 27. Be6+ Kh8 28.
    Rxh7+ Kxh7 29. Qh2+ Bh6 30. Qxh6# 1-0

  25. Great video! I want to start playing black lion, I just have questions. What if my opponent doesn't castle at all or even castles queen side? Is the black lion still viable in these situations?

  26. You explained that really really well! Thanks – much appreciated…

  27. Very aggressive lines, thanks a great master ❤️

  28. fgd7 f6d7 f6d7 f6d7 f6d7 f6d7 Queen kisses the Bad Boy Knight b.
    I want to play with my dark square Bishop outside of my pawn chain, that still the Dog?
    I mean Lion, Black Lion?
    Because the bAD bOY IS A LYON DOWN AT THE qUEENS FEET? Knight b.

  29. hi Chess Giant…can you suggest how to deal with White's 2nd move f4? an early reply would be greatly appreciated…thank u

  30. Thanks, now I remember it again.

  31. Just come across your channel. This is a really detailed and helpful video. Time to hit the subscribe button!

  32. this is a good video. ANGRY_CHESS_CLOWN . 2000 rated LiChess . I know you're 2400 Lichess

  33. 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nd7 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 c6 5. Nf3 h6 6. O-O Qc7 7. Re1 Ngf6 8. a4 a5
    9. Ba2 g5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. h3 Be7 12. Nd2 Nf8 13. Nc4 Ng6 14. Be3 g4 15. hxg4
    Bxg4 16. f3 Be6 17. Qe2 Rg8 18. Rad1 Nh4 19. Bf2 Nxg2 20. Kh2 Nf4 21. Qf1 Bh3
    22. Qh1 Rg2+ *

  34. 1. e4 d6 2. d3 Nd7 3. Nc3 e5 4. b3 c6 5. Bb2 a5 6. Nf3 Qc7 7. Be2 h6 8. O-O Ngf6
    9. h3 Be7 10. Qd2 g5 11. a4 Nf8 12. Nh2 Ng6 13. Ng4 Nf4 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. Bg4
    h5 16. Bxc8 Qxc8 17. Qe3 g4 18. hxg4 hxg4 19. Qg3 Bh4 20. Qe3 Qe6 21. g3 Qh6 22.
    gxf4 Bg3 23. Qxg3 Qh1# 0-1

  35. Τα γράμματα πάνω στη σκακιέρα δεν μπορείς να παρακολουθήσεις

  36. Dude, people really doesn't deserve your videos about openings. I've seen a lot of instructionals, and the way you explain it, with the right pace and your minimalistic yet not vulgar presentation makes everything so enjoyable and you are THE BEST. You are the best school I could ever recommend to anyone starting in chess or trying to learn new things. I just love your openings videos. You deserve 1,000,000 views and subscribers, you really do. Thanks for the effort and for making chess more aprochable to all of us. Love, ton of love for ya, me mate.

  37. Been in similar positions as Black after White's Bxf7+ and then Nxc7 but simply resigned without playing it out. Thanks for giving yet another example of how in chess, as in life, appearances can be deceptive and why continuing the fight is usually the best policy.

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